Environmental Science & Environmental Studies Differences

Although having similar names the Doane University Environmental STUDIES and Environmental SCIENCE majors are different.  This is seen in their curriculum, emphasis, and the pathway students choose as they look at their interests and strengths toward addressing environmental topics.

Environmental STUDIES is a major that provides a broadly integrated understanding that includes, among others, the business, economic, social, and political facets of environmental challenges.  Environmental Studies majors do not select any of the Environmental Science Emphasis Areas.  They can select a second major or a minor.

Environmental SCIENCE is a major that addresses environmental challenges by applying scientific knowledge in earth and environmental science, biology, and chemistry coupled with the required selection of one Emphasis Area. The five Emphasis Areas are Political Science and Policy, Biology, Chemistry, Computational Thinking, and Science Teaching.

For example, picture a chemical spill resulting from equipment failure.

In this case an Environmental Studies major could examine this situation by asking questions like:

  • What policies, laws, and regulations are in place that were or were not followed in this situation?

  • How can I educate my community about this spill and its impact on the environment?

  • What are the business, economic, and social impacts of this chemical spill?

  • How can my community prevent this from happening again?

On the other hand an Environmental Science major could examine this situation by asking questions like:

  • Where will this spill go and what is the impact upon biological, chemical, and physical environmental systems?

  • What is the environmental risk of this spill to habitats, humans, and animals?

  • How much was spilled?

  • What will be the long-term impact of this chemical spill on environmental systems?

Visit the Environmental & Earth Sciences Department Website.